Breakthrough cars: Automakers kept delivering despite COVID, chip shortage, war

Problems on top of problems have complicated life for automakers and retailers. The great COVID-19 pandemic overturned business plans in early 2020, sent work forces and suppliers fleeing to safety for a year, overturned semiconductor sourcing plans for two years, delayed vehicle development programs and market launches, and resulted in scrambled inventory plans and an industrywide uncertainty about how many vehicles factories might actually be expected to deliver.

And yet life goes on.

Through all this — despite it all — automakers have delivered a wave of products to showrooms since last fall. Significant products, most of them. Big-volume products, some of them. Electric vehicles, many of them. But eagerly awaited products, all of them.

Ford is expected to have the first of its hotly anticipated electric F-150 Lightning pickups in driveways this month.

GMC’s Hummer EV pickup, a truck that’s one part performance and one part workhorse, made it to market this year. This month is also expected to see the first deliveries of the Cadillac Lyriq EV, which began limited production in March.

Each of those represents not just a new product offering in the sea of ever-changing sheet metal, they represent feats of industrial determination — engineers who braved COVID two years ago, purchasing managers who coaxed critical new parts from skittish suppliers, product planners who planned from home offices, and deal-makers somewhere in the system who managed to secure enough scarce semiconductors to convince line executives that schedules were all systems go.

Here are other recent market launches that made it through the pipeline: